So I didn't lie; it was my last time waking up in my Victorian room, this morning I woke up in a different one! My knees cramped up a lot on the little Victorian sofa but bless Linda's heart for letting me stay another night on those circumstances! By the way, the bed set in this room was gorgeous! I set my alarm for 6:45 (YUCK!) and was all packed up and ready for the morning, as I quietly tried to come down the squeaky wooden steps Linda met me at the bottom; "trying to sneak out are you?" Caught me! She insisted on breakfast so I agreed on something quick, fruit I thought. Anything else, she asked? "Well...I mean..." You mean what, what would you like? A slice of toast if it isn't any trouble? Sure she replied-jelly? Yes please! And poured me some orange juice as well. I wrapped my shin with the ace wrap I used in the early days for my knee to see if the compression helped; I said my farewells and headed out one last time into the town of Damascus (for this year at least!) stumbling on Orchard Hill Rd made me think of home, when I lived on Orchard Hill Dr-close enough! And continued on to the Creeper Trail. I decided to walk the Creeper trail since it met up with the AT at 2 other locations down the line; and it would be easier on my recovering shin. At first the trail went along side the road and some houses and I was a little skeptical whether this could be right. The creeper trail is a rails to trails bike path so it only has about a 30% elevation grade, is small loose gravel, and is about 30+ miles long from start to finish. Once I reached the first AT crossing; I sat on the bench, threw away my trash, and ate my lunch. Well this was nice! The Appalachian Trail should have some of these amenities! After deciding to continue on the Creeper Trail, I came across all of these wooden bridges numbered: 16, then 17, and so on-these couldn't be mile markers could they?! And then when one was right after another I learned, no-not mile markers! Walking the creeper trail was gorgeous, it ran parallel with the river, so much green, and rock wall waterfalls-reminded me of biking the rails to trails at home. After walking rather slow, and I mean SLOW for a long time, I caught a glimpse of Johnny Walker and Barticus in the river! No way, so I went over and chatted (my feet could use the break.) They had been just camping on the creeper living it up, and had fishing poles. Seems like a good time to me! They asked if I was going to stop at the cafe, WAIT-there's a cafe near?! Ok this Creeper Trail is getting better and better! We walked to the Creeper Cafe (what I mean by we, is I headed out first-the guys passed me, and waited for me at the bridge to the cafe haha) right off the bike path is a small restaurant with burgers and I've cream and such (my mom cringes when I say and such so I had to, and acknowledge it haha.) I ordered a cookie dough milkshake and a hot ham and cheese sandwich. Johnny Walker ordered before me two chili cheese dogs, and Barticus a couple people after me a BLT. My order was called, Barticus's order was called. No food for Johnny. After waiting number after number he went up and it seems like they made a mistake and made chili cheese fries and then threw them out once they realized and then forgot about him. It started to rain so we sat on the outdoor porch to wait it out-maybe 45min-an hour and talked, took photos, and touched up nails-you can see Johnny blowing on his below! After the skies cleared the boys decided to fish some more, as much as I would have loved to lounge around and be a catfish I decided to walk on. I walked alone through a residential field and it was so pretty. You can see below the type of house I would love to own one day! It was just by itself, with rolling hills, a giant front porch-so inviting. Until I came across the abandoned ice cream castle...yup, like you would see at a county fair-interesting. The creeper trail came to an end for me when I got to the last very long bridge before heading back on the AT. Again, walking baby steps down the trail I wanted to find a cool camp spot by the river on the AT but with making some miles as well. Seems like all the cool spots were right away and I pushed on-I stopped at a spot to get water and see if I could makeshift a stealth spot but I really couldn't. Weather came up and introduced himself and asked me a few of the normal questions:
Yes, that's the plan
Not sure yet
(Are you thru hiking? What's your trail name? When did you start? Where are you from? How old are you? Where are you headed tonight?)
And off he went. I decided to just push to the shelter when I realized I was walking on a narrow path that was accommodating any stealth campsites. When I strolled into camp I went up to the shelter and saw Dexter! Hey what a cool surprise! I set up my tent, got my dinner ready, took off my shoes and wrap around my shin and noticed a golf ball was lodged under my skin on my right ankle. This instantly scared me, I looked again, touched it, rubbed it, moved it. Nothing hurt or was sore, but man it was swollen! I hung my food bag, and got back into my tent-no socializing tonight, this needed to be elevated. I took one Advil to help the swelling go down, ate half of my dinner and rubbed the cream my mom sent me on my ankle, shin, and feet and called it a night-planning to try to keep it elevated on my pack for the duration of the night.